Director of Public Prosecutions v Barreto: Admn 31 Jul 2019

Non-communications use of phone not caught

The DPP appealed from a decision overturning the conviction of the respondent for the use while driving of a mobile phone to take pictures.
Held: The phrasing of the statute limited the offence to one of using the phone for communication purposes. Other uses were not caught by the regulations: ‘The regulations contain no definition of ‘mobile phone’. At the time they came into force an increasing number of motorists were holding them while driving to make and receive telephone calls and to send and receive texts. It was to that mischief that the regulations were directed.’ and ‘The Oxford English Dictionary definition of mobile phone is ‘a telephone with access to a cellular radio system so it can be used over a wide area without a physical connection to a network.’ The definition of ‘smartphone’ is ‘a mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, internet access and an operating system capable of running downloaded apps.’ In ordinary conversation the description mobile phone includes a smartphone, like the one used in this case.’
and: ‘It would have been much better to have drafted legislation which was less cumbersome but its effect is clear. The legislation does not prohibit all use of a mobile phone held while driving. It prohibits driving while using a mobile phone or other device for calls and other interactive communication (and holding it at some stage during that process). ‘

Thirlwall DBE LJ, Goss J
[2019] EWHC 2044 (Admin)
Road Traffic Act 1988 41D, Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 110
England and Wales
CitedRegina v Eldarf 23-Sep-2018
(Crown Court at Harrow) The motorist, while driving, had been using his mobile phone to listen to music which was stored in the phone. In evidence he demonstrated how he changed the music tracks on his phone which he held in his hand, using his . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Road Traffic

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.640118